Once you have identified your career goals, you should:
- Assess the feasibility of that goal, and
- Look for companies and industries that best match your interests.
When you have selected several target industries or functional areas based on your interests, you will need to ascertain the feasibility of pursuing those industries or areas by researching marketplace conditions. You will also need to determine how well those potential areas fit with your skills and experience. Please be aware of the competitiveness of each target area, and consider alternatives that will further your long-term career goals.
Once you have assessed the feasibility of your targets, you are prepared to enter the active phase of your job search. Define your goals in terms of industry/function/position and geographic location. Now you are able to begin creating a list of target companies. In order to build this list, you will need to obtain as much primary company and industry information as possible. This baseline research should be done before reaching out to networking contacts. Resources to help alumni conduct research are available both online and on campus (see below).
During the research process, look for company specific information such as industry trends, including threats and opportunities; key players; financials (even if not interviewing for a finance position); and company products or services. Take note of the day-to-day tasks associated with a certain job (this is especially true for career changers) and to the culture of a particular company. When you have identified target industries or functional areas based on your interests, you will need to ascertain the fit with your skills and experience.
Most importantly, keep track of all of the information that you collect.
- Alumni Directory: Use the alumni directory search engine to search for alumni according to name, industry, company, job function, or special interests.
- Hoovers: Hoovers is a company database that allows you to build lists of target companies based on criteria such as location, industry, company size, and financials. Hoovers allows you to view detailed company fact sheets; executive bios; and information on products, services, and competitors.
- First Research: First Research is an industry database that offers industry intelligence on business challenges, trends, opportunities, and forecasts for twenty-five different industries and hundreds of sub-industries. This database also offers call preparation questions consisting of industry-specific questions that demonstrate industry knowledge that can be used during networking or interviewing.
- The Vault and WetFeet: The Vault, best known for its industry guides, offers assistance in researching employers, industries, and career subjects. Similarly, WetFeet offers its own library of guides on companies, careers, and industries, along with videos and helpful interviewing and networking tips. Alumni can use both resources to explore new fields, conduct baseline research, and prepare for meetings and interviews.
- Watson Library: Columbia Business School alumni with an alumni ID may conduct research in person at the Watson Library of Business and Economics in Uris Hall, as well as in other campus libraries. Watson Library offers a large number of subscription-based databases, including Bloomberg terminals, Factiva, Multitex, and many more. Alumni who wish to check out books may obtain a borrowing privileges card for $30 per month at the Library Information Office. Finally, a reference librarian is also available to assist alumni with their research.
- Career Management Library: Alumni are welcome to use the Career Management Library in Uris Hall, Stairway Y, Room 1M. The library keeps a collection of trade journals and books on general topics such as resumes, cover letters, and interviewing techniques, as well as information on specific industries and companies. An updated list of resources can be found here. Please call 212-854-6070 for more information and hours of operation.
- Columbia University Alumni Libraries Website: The University offers several premium electronic resources to alumni. This site can be accessed remotely and requires your Columbia uni and password for access. The electronic resources include thousands of scholarly journals, periodicals, magazines, and newspapers that cover every aspect of the business world.